The Digital-Key Edition Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Apple Releases Software Fix For MacBook Pro Slowdown, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Apple’s own internal performance testing hadn’t triggered the issue, which turns out to not be app specific—Premiere, you’re out of the penalty box—and tends to affect heavy workloads that take place over an extended period of time.

The good news is, this doesn’t appear to be evidence that Apple’s laptop design is incapable of handling fast chips, but that someone at Apple had a bad day and failed to include a specific digital key that caused a cascade of bad behaviors in some very specific circumstances.

Tested: Apple's Patch Fixes The Thermal Slowdowns In The 2018 I9 MacBook Pro, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

After several back-to-back tests, keeping the processors warm and the fans running, we were able to regularly get impressive scores of up to 916. Using Intel Power Gadget, we clocked the processor speed averaging around 2.3Ghz and 2.6GHz, almost exactly what we were getting with the i9.

Apple’s T2 Chip May Be Causing Issues In iMac Pro And 2018 MacBook Pros, by Kevin Parrish, Yahoo

Many iMac Pro owners have reportedly suffered numerous kernel panics — the MacOS version of the dreaded Blue Screen of Death in Windows — since they hit the market at the end of 2017. You can find a handful of threads on Apple’s community forums, including this one, detailing the trials and tribulations customers are experiencing with their expensive iMac Pros and Apple support. The problems apparently reside in the new MacBook Pro laptops, too.

Of all the error messages uploaded to these threads, there is one detail they seem to share: Bridge OS. This is an embedded operating system used by Apple’s stand-alone T2 security chip, which provides the iMac Pro with a secure boot, encrypted storage, live “Hey Siri” commands, and so on. It’s now included in the new 2018 models of the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Many Bluetooth Implementations And OS Drivers Affected By Crypto Bug, by Catalin Cimpanu, Bleeping Computer

This bug occurs because Bluetooth-capable devices do not sufficiently validate encryption parameters used during "secure" Bluetooth connections. More precisely, pairing devices do not sufficiently validate elliptic curve parameters used to generate public keys during a Diffie-Hellman key exchange.

This results in a weak pairing that may allow a remote attacker to obtain the encryption key used by a device and recover data sent between two devices paired in a "secure" Bluetooth connection.

Bluetooth Security Flaw Requires Updating To Recent iOS, macOS Versions, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

They were contained in late-May’s iOS 11.4 and in early-June’s macOS High Sierra 10.13.5. Anyone who’s on a more recent version of either operating system is also protected.

Text Adventure Plus Graphics

Two Histories Of Myst – Picking Up The Pieces, by John Gabriel Adkins, Medium

“Virtual reality” today is cynical Silicon Valley marketing-speak; in 1991, when Myst began development, it was an overpoweringly real and present necessity. Computers were magic in the 1970s, ’80s and ‘90s. They were expensive, foreign, mysterious, Narnia-esque portals to other worlds: their true nature and potential were unknown, unmapped even by their own engineers. People craved virtual reality. The Infocom text adventures — each one a vast computer-world — saw incredible commercial success, even on the Macintosh. So much success, in fact, that their DOS-style command-line interfaces became a threat to the Macintosh brand.

The key to understanding Myst is this juxtaposition. It’s the glorious strangeness of Macintosh outsider art matched with the highest ideals of Zork. Fundamentally, right down to the way it requires the player to draw maps and take notes on physical paper, Myst is a text adventure plus graphics. But this design framework was run through the anti-game aesthetic of Mac development. The Millers didn’t want to make a game; they didn’t even have a demographic in mind, beyond themselves and the many others who didn’t care much for games.³ It was this magic mix that carried Myst into millions of lives, that sparked a gold rush and, ultimately, that made it the game industry’s favorite scapegoat and whipping boy for over two decades.


What APFS Does For You, And What You Can Do With APFS, by Jeff Carlson, TidBITS

APFS offers a few notable advantages that occur automatically and some useful things you can do directly.

A Review Of The Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

Remapping keys aside, I have finally found the keyboard to end all keyboards. The Surface Ergonomic keyboard spent an hour on my desk before I re-boxxed the Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad to be sold.

I’ve hammered out this review in less than 45 minutes and not once have I felt sore fingertips from bottoming out at the bottom of a keystroke or sore wrists from them rubbing on the desk on awkward pressure points. I also don’t have any sweat on my wrists, as I assume they’ve been whisked dry by the Alcantara base.

Harry Potter Kit Lets Your Kid Build A Wand And Learn Coding, by Maggie Tillman, Pocket Lint

With this coding kit, Harry Potter fans can follow step-by-step instructions in order to build a wand, which includes a gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer so that it can track location, speed, and the position of a hand.


Big Tech Warns Of 'Japan's Millennium Bug' Ahead Of Akihito's Abdication, by Alex Hern, The Guardian

The Japanese calendar counts up from the coronation of a new emperor, using not the name of the emperor, but the name of the era they herald. Akihito’s coronation in January 1989 marked the beginning of the Heisei era, and the end of the Shōwa era that preceded him; and Naruhito’s coronation will itself mark another new era.

But that brings problems. For one, Akihito has been on the throne for almost the entirety of the information age, meaning that many systems have never had to deal with a switchover in era. For another, the official name of Naruhito’s era has yet to be announced, causing concern for diary publishers, calendar printers and international standards bodies.


The Rapidly Growing Business Case For Apple’s ARKit, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

It’s ever so easy to become a little blinkered around AR experiences, thinking of them only as entertainment experiences that may be of use in certain specific situations.

That would be a shame, as I hope these examples show.

Why The iPhone Can’t Compete In India, by Kunal Dua, The Verge

The biggest reason for Apple’s struggle in India is that its handsets are priced for the very top of the market, while the vast majority of Indian users buy cheaper devices. Apple’s flagship 256GB iPhone X is priced in India at Rs. 1,08,930, or roughly $1,600, while the average smartphone retails at roughly one-tenth the price. According to Counterpoint Research, the “premium smartphone market” — phones that cost Rs. 30,000, or roughly $450 — contributes to just 4 percent of the overall smartphone sales in India.

Was It Ethical For Dropbox To Share Customer Data With Scientists?, by Emily Dreyfuss, Wired

“What’s the secret to a high-performing team? A star player? Veteran experience? In a joint study by Dropbox and the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO), we set out to answer questions like these,” Hinds wrote in the Dropbox blog post Friday. But academics like Fiesler and Brudy have different questions. They wonder who had access to this data, and for how long. What kinds of Dropbox accounts were affected—paid or free? Are there other studies in the works like this? Will this research be submitted for a peer review? Those answers matter for the scientists at more than 6,000 universities who use Dropbox.

Bottom of the Page

I don't understand this Macbook Pro bug.

But it does reinforce the idea (to me, at least) that so many things can go wrong in making a computer nowadays that it's a wonder that thing is even working at all.


Thanks for reading.